It might surprise you to learn that many of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí’s greatest works can be found at a museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
What might surprise you even more? Thanks to artificial intelligence, the late painter, who died in 1989, now resides there too — and he’d love to snag a selfie.
The Dalí Museum, renowned for its extensive collection of surrealist works, debuted a permanent exhibit to the public on Saturday, titled Dalí Lives. At first appearing as a super sleek information kiosk, the interactive exhibit encourages guests to approach a human-sized screen and press a small, LED-lit button to summon the main attraction.
Then, visitors are greeted by Dalí himself.
The product of advanced artificial-intelligence technology and over 1,000 hours of machine learning, this “deepfake” Dalí can interact with guests, share stories from his life, chat about the weather, and more.
“This is actually a recreated version of Dalí.”
“In order to actually train this AI to reproduce Dalí’s likeness, we started with finding the right footage of Dalí,” Technical Director Nathan Shipley explains.
“Our system learns exactly what he looks like, and how his mouth moves, and how his eyes move, and his eyebrows and every little detail about what makes Dalí Dalí.”
According to the museum, the Dalí Lives AI system analyzed over 6,000 frames of Dalí, learning his physicality and mannerisms — while its creators spent countless hours researching Dalí quotes to create a fully-realized character to embody the impressive technical illusion.
“This is actually a recreated version of Dalí,” Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners — the advertising agency that collaborated with the museum on the exhibit — notes.
“It’s not a person playing Dalí with makeup. It is actually Dalí. We’re very careful to use his words, so that you learn a lot about what he thought and the way he thought.”
In its final form, Dalí Lives has produced 45 minutes of “new” Dalí footage, comprised of 190,512 possible combinations — making each interaction with the AI Dalí feel unique.
All guests, however, do share one particularly bizarre moment with the resurrected surrealist. As each session of Dalí Lives comes to an end, Dalí turns to his visitors and asks if they would like to take a picture with him.
When guests inevitably say yes, Dalí pulls out a smartphone and takes a selfie with the whole group. In an especially crowd-pleasing move, he then offers to have it texted to you for posting on social media.
“Before you leave, you will take a picture with me?”
Image: the dali museum
Talk about surreal.
Dalí Lives is now on display at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.